10 Polite Ways to Say "Please Explain" (2023)

Have you not fully understood something and want someone to explain it further to help you? A phrase like “please explain” might seem appropriate, but more polite alternatives are available.

This article has gathered the best synonyms for “please explain.” We will show you how to ask someone to explain further without upsetting them.

  • Could you please explain?
  • Do you mind explaining?
  • Could you please clarify?
  • I don’t quite understand
  • I’m sorry, but could you try to explain it further?
  • I think I missed something, so could you explain it?
  • I’m sorry, but I need you to explain it to me
  • Please repeat that
  • Would you mind going through that?
  • I’m not following, so could you help me?

Keep reading to learn more about how to ask for further explanation in an email. There are plenty of great alternatives, and we’ve included an example for each one.

1. Could You Please Explain?

You can always start by asking a question to get someone to explain something to you. “Could you please explain?” is a great example of a polite question that will encourage people to go into more detail.

It’s a great demonstration of how to ask someone to explain something in emails. It shows that you’d like to learn more about what they’ve spoken about, but you might need some guidance.

You can also refer to the following example to help you:

Dear Mr. Tate,

Could you please explain what you mean by this? I’m afraid the information doesn’t make much sense.

Kind regards,

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2. Do You Mind Explaining?

Another great question-based alternative is “do you mind explaining?” Usually, you will include more after the original question to be more specific. For instance:

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  • Do you mind explaining what you mean by that?

The question “do you mind explaining?” on its own might seem a bit abrupt and rude. You should keep it polite by including more information to let someone know what you want them to explain.

Why not refer to the following example to give you a hand:

Dear Jonathan,

Do you mind explaining your expectations for me? I’m keen to hear more about what you want to get from this.

All the best,

3. Could You Please Clarify?

Knowing how to ask for clarification politely is simple with a question like “could you please clarify?” It shows that you’d like someone to add further information to something by “clarifying” what they mean.

Here’s an example to show you how it works:

Dear Ms. Browne,

Could you please clarify whether this is correct? It doesn’t make much sense to me, but I might be missing something.


4. I Don’t Quite Understand

Not every synonym is a question, though. A statement like “I don’t quite understand” is a great way to get someone to explain something thoroughly.

It shows that you aren’t following along with whatever they’re explaining. If you don’t understand, there’s not much point in them continuing until they’ve explained what they’ve previously discussed. It’s a great choice if you want someone to review points again.

If you’re still stumped, take a look at the following example:

Dear Alexia,

I don’t quite understand what you want me to take away from this. Could you please tell me more?

(Video) Conversational English - How to make polite requests

All the best,

5. I’m Sorry, but Could You Try to Explain It Further?

We always encourage starting a polite phrase with “I’m sorry” when it fits. It’s a great way to remain polite and apologetic, showing that you would like to understand something but need more help to do so.

The next part is a question, which is “but could you try to explain it further?” It’s a great way to find out more from someone in a polite way. It’s not a rude question, so it works well in many contexts.

This email sample will help you understand it better:

Dear Mr. Parkinson,

I’m sorry, but could you try to explain it further? I’m still not certain about a few of the points raised.

All the best,

6. I Think I Missed Something, so Could You Explain It?

Let’s say you’ve just had a meeting and were taking some notes. Perhaps you missed something vital, and your notes don’t currently make sense. That’s where “I think I missed something, so could you explain it?” comes in.

It’s a great alternative to “please explain” because it shows that you’d like some guidance. It’s professional and allows someone to explain more about something if you’ve missed a few important pieces of information.

Here is a sample email to show you how to use it:

Dear Albert,

I think I missed something, so could you explain it? My meeting notes aren’t making a lot of sense.


7. I’m Sorry, but I Need You to Explain It to Me

You can also use “I’m sorry, but I need you to explain it to me” as a polite alternative to “please explain.” It’s a great option if you want to be professional and respectful of someone’s knowledge.

“I need you to explain it to me” is a bit of a demanding statement, though. So, you should only use it when talking to your boss or someone who might know more about something than you (since they’ll be able to help explain it better than most).

Also, this example should help you understand it:

(Video) TOP 10 Polite English Expressions: Advanced Vocabulary Lesson

Dear Ms. Hope,

I’m sorry, but I need you to explain it to me. Is there something I’m missing from the original transcript?

Kind regards,

8. Please Repeat That

A more casual alternative comes with “please repeat that.” It’s a subtle choice that still remains polite and friendly when you ask someone for more information.

We recommend using it when emailing colleagues who might be able to fill in some gaps. It shows that you don’t quite grasp what they’re talking about. So, they might need to run through it again or “repeat” themselves.

Check out the following example email to help you understand it:

Dear Oliver,

Please repeat that for me. I understand the basics, but I have a few problems with the finer details.

Kind regards,

9. Would You Mind Going Through That?

“Would you mind going through that?” is a question that replaces “please explain” well. You can use it when asking colleagues to run through something with you.

Starting the question with “would you mind” is very polite and professional. You should use it when you want to show respect towards someone when asking for their help.

This email sample should clarify how it works:

Dear Uma,

Would you mind going through that with me? I can’t start working on the project until I understand what you want from me.

Best wishes,

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10. I’m Not Following, so Could You Help Me?

You can break this phrase into two parts. First, you can start with “I’m not following.” This means you do not understand something and cannot comprehend what someone means.

“So could you help me?” is the second part of the phrase. It shows you would appreciate someone’s help when trying to follow information. Then, you can ask what they know to see if they can help you go from “I’m not following” to “I understand you now.”

You can also refer to this example to help you:

Dear Mrs. Pinkett,

I’m not following, so could you help me? I have attached the file in question, and I would appreciate some feedback.

Thank you,

10 Polite Ways to Say "Please Explain" (1)

Martin Lassen

Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.

Related posts:

  1. “Sorry For” Or “Sorry About”? Difference Explained (+14 Examples)
  2. 7 Other Ways to Say “Sorry to Bother You” in an Email
  3. 11 Polite Ways to Say “Please Sign and Return”
  4. Is “May You Please Explain This” Grammatically Correct? Explained For Beginners


How do you politely ask for explanation? ›

There are a few simple steps to follow when you're looking for further explanation.
  1. Admit you need clarification. Admitting you need more information makes the next step much easier for the person you ask. ...
  2. Don't blame the other person. Own your confusion. ...
  3. Summarize. ...
  4. Be specific.
May 20, 2019

How do you say explain politely? ›

When you ask someone to "elaborate on" something, you're asking them to explain it in greater detail, which is another good way to ask for clarification. Sorry, could you elaborate, please? Could you elaborate on that for me?

How do you say let me explain formally? ›

You can say let me please explain.
Some ways to politely preface an explanation:
  1. Perhaps I can explain…. (gentle and diplomatic)
  2. Allow me to explain… (very polite and businesslike)
  3. May I explain? (Conversational. Neutral…can be gentle or firm, depending on tone of voice and body language)
  4. This is why... It's because…

How do you politely decline an answering question? ›

Good ways to say anything but "No Comment" to questions you really don't want to answer:
  • "I'm sorry but I'm not able to speak to that subject"
  • "Thanks for asking but I'm not able to answer that question"
  • "I'm sorry but that information is proprietary"
Jul 17, 2008

How do you say please reply in a formal way? ›

Instead of yes, you can say:
  1. Yes I can/Yes, sure thing.
  2. Yes of course!/Of course I will.
  3. Yes I can. It's this way.
  4. Sure. It's 10am.
  5. Sure thing!
  6. I can certainly do that for you.
  7. Yes here you go!/Sure, here you go.
  8. OK I will.
Dec 7, 2021

How do you professionally say can you explain? ›

Asking somebody to explain something implies that you don't know anything about the topic and want the person to teach you.
For instance you may use:
  • May I inquire about something?
  • Could you educate me upon something?
  • Is it possible to know (more) about something?
Sep 24, 2014

What is a fancy way to say explain? ›

Some common synonyms of explain are elucidate, explicate, expound, and interpret.

What to say instead of explain? ›

synonyms for explain
  • analyze.
  • clarify.
  • define.
  • demonstrate.
  • describe.
  • disclose.
  • expound.
  • illustrate.

Whats another way to say please explain? ›

Explain Synonyms - WordHippo Thesaurus.
What is another word for explain?
make clearpoint out
176 more rows

How do you say please let me know professionally? ›

Please advise is mostly used in formal and professional settings.
“Please Advise” Alternatives: Casual
  1. Please let me know. ...
  2. Please keep me posted. ...
  3. Please get back to me. ...
  4. Please fill me in. ...
  5. Please keep me in the loop.

How do you say no professionally? ›

7 tips to help you politely (and professionally) say no
  1. Know your workload. Before you can decide whether to say yes or no, you need to know your current workload. ...
  2. Lead with positivity. ...
  3. Politely and clearly decline. ...
  4. Explain why. ...
  5. Offer a different solution. ...
  6. Be consistent. ...
  7. Practice empathy.
Jun 3, 2022

How do you professionally decline a question? ›

How to politely decline
  1. Apologize first. This might seem like an odd piece of advice, especially if you objectively haven't done anything wrong. ...
  2. Don't beat around the bush. ...
  3. Use the actual word. ...
  4. Say NO twice, if you have to. ...
  5. Forward them to someone else. ...
  6. Mirror their request. ...
  7. Offer an alternative. ...
  8. Get back to them.

How do you politely firmly decline? ›

Saying “No” to an Invitation or Offer
  1. I appreciate the offer, but I can't.
  2. I'm honored, but can't.
  3. I'd love to, but I can't.
  4. I appreciate the invitation, but I am completely booked.
  5. Thanks for thinking of me, but I can't.
  6. Regrettably, I'm not able to.
  7. You're so kind to think of me, but I can't.

How do you politely chase a response? ›

Here are some key things to keep in mind when you reach out to someone for the second (or third, or fourth) time.
  1. Have a compelling subject line. ...
  2. Be mindful of your tone. ...
  3. Keep it short and use simple language. ...
  4. Make a clear ask. ...
  5. Give them an out. ...
  6. Be judiciously persistent.
Jan 13, 2021

How do you please politely? ›

We usually put please at the end of a request with could, can and would, but we can also put it at the beginning or in the middle. Please in the mid position makes the request stronger. Could you say that again, please? Would you say that again, please?

How do you ask for answers in an email? ›

How to ask for help via email
  1. Use a clear, direct subject line. ...
  2. Greet your reader. ...
  3. Establish your credibility. ...
  4. Put the question in the first or second sentence. ...
  5. Use a call to action to clarify the next steps. ...
  6. Make your email easy to read. ...
  7. Give your reader a deadline. ...
  8. Close the email politely and thoughtfully.
Jan 13, 2021

How do you politely ask for clarification in an email? ›

20 Email Expressions to Ask for Clarification
  1. If I understood you correctly, you would like me to...
  2. As previously stated…
  3. Could you please clarify what you meant by…?
  4. Sorry if I was unclear. ...
  5. As per my last email…
  6. Please let me know if I misunderstood. ...
  7. Please let me know how we can avoid this in the future.
Mar 17, 2021

Can you please explain or could you please explain? ›

Always use "could" if you are asking for a favour. Can is generally used to comment on the capability of a person to perform a task. So, when you ask "Can you explain it to me?", you are basically asking whether the opposite person is capable of explaining something.

What is another way to say just to clarify? ›

1 explain, illuminate, elucidate, resolve.

What are 3 synonyms for explanation? ›

synonyms for explanation
  • account.
  • answer.
  • cause.
  • comment.
  • commentary.
  • confession.
  • definition.
  • description.

What's another word for well explained? ›

clear-cut, distinct, explicit, precise, straightforward, transparent, unambiguous, apparent, audible, comprehensible, graspable, intelligible, legible, lucent, lucid, obvious, plain, sharp, spelled out, unblurred.

What are the phrases to explain reasons? ›

What are the words and phrases we use for giving reasons in English? They are: because, because of, the reason (for this) is, in order to, why, as a result of, for, through, due to, owing to.

What is the meaning of please explain? ›

A request for explanation or clarification on an issue.

Could you please clarify or can you please clarify? ›

Please clarify vs could you please clarify. A complete search of the internet has found these results: Please clarify is the most popular phrase on the web.

How do you ask for politely and professionally? ›

General phrases for introducing a request for help
  1. “Could/Would you do me a favor?” — ...
  2. “Could I ask / bother you / trouble you…” — ...
  3. “Can you give me a hand with this?” — ...
  4. “Lend me a hand with this, will you?” — ...
  5. “Could you help me for a second?” — ...
  6. “Can I ask a favor?” — ...
  7. “Please, could I ask you for some advice?” —
Jul 7, 2022

How do you politely ask for something professionally? ›

Here are some better phrases to make polite requests in English:
  1. “Do you mind…?.”
  2. “Would you mind…?
  3. “Could I…?”
  4. “Would it be ok if…?”
  5. “Would it be possible…?”
  6. “Would you be willing to…?”

How do you say please let me know if you require any further information? ›

Expressions for showing them you want to help

If you require any further information, feel free to contact me. If you require any further information, let me know. Please feel free to contact me if you need any further information. Please let me know if you have any questions.

How do you say no rude without sounding? ›

Must Read
  1. I'm honoured but I can't. . .
  2. I wish there were two of me. . .
  3. Unfortunately, now is not a good time. . ...
  4. Sorry, I'm booked into something else right now. . ...
  5. Damn, not able to fit this one in! . ...
  6. Sadly, I have something else. . ...
  7. No, thank you but it sounds lovely, so next time. . ...
  8. I'm not taking anything else right now. .
Apr 19, 2019

How can I say no without offending? ›

The art of politely decline engagements you don't wish to attend without offending people.
  1. Practice saying no. ...
  2. Keep it simple. ...
  3. Delay if you're unsure. ...
  4. Be gracious. ...
  5. Offer an alternative (if you want) ...
  6. Stay firm. ...
  7. Remember: It's OK to say no.
Dec 16, 2022

How do you politely push back? ›

To push back does not mean to argue with no merit or to be a troublemaker or rabble-rouser for no reason. It means to pleasantly but assertively question and present your viewpoint and supporting facts. The goal is to understand what your boss is saying, and then explain how and why you see it differently.

How do you respond to a nosy question? ›

10 assertive tips on dealing with nosy questions
  1. Go with your gut. ...
  2. Don't be rude back. ...
  3. Use “I” statements. ...
  4. Find out more if appropriate. ...
  5. Say how you feel about being asked or about giving the information. ...
  6. Depersonalise your answer. ...
  7. Express your feelings if you want to. ...
  8. Move them on.
Jan 9, 2013

How do you say no diplomatically but firmly? ›

Be direct. Try to have a strong tone of voice, without appearing harsh or intimidating. It should be obvious that you're not available, but that you appreciate the thought. Being firm and giving the ask-er your full attention demonstrates thoughtfulness, and shows you're not dismissing them needlessly.

How do you say no gently? ›

10 different ways to say no
  1. Sadly, I have something else going on.
  2. I have another commitment.
  3. I wish I were able to.
  4. I'm afraid I can't.
  5. I don't have the bandwidth for that right now.
  6. I'm honored you asked me, but I simply can't.
  7. Thanks for thinking of me. ...
  8. I'm sorry, I'm not able to fit this in.
Jan 7, 2022

How do you use respectfully decline in a sentence? ›

I must respectfully decline the invitation.

How do you say no professionally in an email? ›

Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out to me and for your interest in our business. We really appreciate you putting your trust in our services. Unfortunately, at this time, we are not able to fulfil your request for you [insert reason: time restraints, not a good fit for the firm, etc].

How do you request an explanation email? ›

20 Email Expressions to Ask for Clarification
  1. If I understood you correctly, you would like me to...
  2. As previously stated…
  3. Could you please clarify what you meant by…?
  4. Sorry if I was unclear. ...
  5. As per my last email…
  6. Please let me know if I misunderstood. ...
  7. Please let me know how we can avoid this in the future.
Mar 17, 2021

How do you approach an explanation question? ›

  1. make a point.
  2. give a reason why (often given as 'because')
  3. state the consequence (positive or negative) for the business.

How do you ask for something professionally? ›

  1. Lead with the ask. ...
  2. Establish your credibility. ...
  3. Make the way forward clear. ...
  4. If you're asking a question, propose a solution. ...
  5. Be scannable. ...
  6. Give them a deadline. ...
  7. Write your subject lines like headlines. ...
  8. Edit your messages ruthlessly.
Jan 24, 2019

How do you write a polite email asking for clarification? ›

How do you write your clarification emails?
  1. Thank the person for the information. Thanks for the information on the conference. ...
  2. Clarify what you don't understand/still need. I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean by ABC. ...
  3. Reference the next step politely. I am looking forward to receiving the updated information today.
Feb 17, 2014

Can you please clarify for me? ›

When you ask someone to clarify something for you, it suggests that you are following what the person is saying and understand the majority or all of the key points, but you need more details on a certain point. Or perhaps the other person wasn't fully clear (it happens!) so they need to restate their idea another way.

How do you answer a question that asks you to explain? ›

A vague "Point, Evidence, Explain" structure should be followed; you should make your initial point, back it up with evidence, and then explain and analyse how this relates to the question.

How do you start an explanation? ›

It's normally a good idea to start your explanation with a statement. This statement should make it clear exactly what you're explaining. It might be a definition, and it could contain contextual information about the topic. Once you've done that, you'll need to write the sequence of your explanation.

What is best way to answer questions? ›

Answering Tough Questions in the Moment
  1. Listen to the Question. Sounds simple, but with so many things calling for our attention, it's easy to be distracted and not hear what the question really is. ...
  2. Pause. ...
  3. Repeat the Question. ...
  4. Respond Honestly. ...
  5. Know When to Stop.

How can I communicate more politely? ›

Follow these tips and you should make the right impression when you talk to people.
  1. Listen and be understanding. ...
  2. Avoid negative words - instead use positive words in a negative form. ...
  3. Say the magic word: Sorry. ...
  4. Use little words to soften your statements. ...
  5. Avoid 'finger pointing' statements with the word 'you'
Aug 16, 2017

How do you ask for a professional reply? ›

How do you get someone to respond to your email
  1. Make sure to structure your follow up email so that the recipient knows immediately that his response is requested. ...
  2. Be Polite in your follow up emails. ...
  3. Be empathetic. ...
  4. Inform your recipient how long it will take to complete the requested task.
Jun 1, 2021


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